Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr told that 900 people were injured in the storm. The National Weather Service said the mighty twister was an EF5, the strongest rating assigned to tornadoes, with winds of more than 322 kph.
According to Rohr, roughly 100 people were meanwhile reviewing information about people reported missing in the storm's wake. He said they're making progress in sorting through the list of names, but declined to say how many people remain "unaccounted for."
Joplin schools were ravaged by the twister and classes have been cancelled for the rest of the school year, but district officials are trying to locate both faculty and many of the schools' 2,200 students. The effort has been crippled by downed phone lines. Some students have been located using Facebook.
The Joplin tornado was the deadliest single twister since the weather service began keeping official records in 1950 and the eighth-deadliest in US history. Scientists said it appeared to be a rare "multivortex" tornado, with two or more small and intense centers of rotation orbiting the larger funnel.
Bill Davis, the lead forecaster on a weather service team sent to survey the damage, said "the strength of the tornado was evident from the many stout buildings that were damaged; St. John's Regional Medical Center, a bank that was destroyed except for its vault, a Pepsi bottling plant and "numerous well-built residential homes that were basically leveled."